‘Have you tried your local bike shop?’

A few weeks ago I had a minor, but irritating problem with my bike – a puncture. I’m not much cop yet at the whole palaver of getting wheels and tyres off, so I looked at ways to save myself a bit of bother. My eureka! moment came when I remembered there’s a Halfords only about half a mile away from me, in Charlton’s Stone Lake Retail Park.

So I took the bike down, and the young guy said it’d be fine… until he realised they didn’t have my size of tube in stock.

“Have you tried your local bike shop?” he asked.

You are my local bike shop, I replied.

And off I trudged. Eventually, I killed several birds with one stone by taking it into The Bike Shop on Lee High Road, Lewisham for a full service.

My bike came back as as good as new with a few parts replaced, and the advice that I should consider getting my tyre changed in a month or two as it was wearing out. Unfortunately, that should have been “in a day or two” – it barely lasted 36 hours. But The Bike Shop happily put things right for me without complaint, and I’ve been riding happily ever since.

There’s a couple of nearer places – the venerable Harry Perry Cycles in Woolwich, and Cycle Warehouse in Greenwich, both of which have given me friendly service in the past, and Cycles UK in Deptford is probably a similar distance away.

But the geography of this bit of London means it’s simpler and more pleasant to ride to/from Lee High Road – a zip through Blackheath Village or a meander through the Cator Estate (although I blame a pothole there for my service being a bit costlier than I planned for) instead of the dual carriageways or steep hills of my immediate neighbourhood.

The Bike Shop’s staff have been pretty good to me in the past, and I get a London Cycling Campaign member discount. So I’ve adopted them to get bits and bobs, although hauling a stricken bike from Charlton for fixing is awkward, as I’ve discovered.

Even though I’ve been cycling for year now, bike shops still have an amazing capacity to both baffle and fascinate me in equal measure – I wish I’d visited Deptford’s famous Whitcomb Cycles before it moved, but the nearby Union Cycle Works co-operative will still build you one if you want.

But, fellow cycling reader, is there any other local bike shop I should be aware of? I also know of Compton in Catford and the Sidcup Cycle Centre, and I’ve heard Brockley Bikes are very highly regarded. Any tips, or any experiences of the shops I’ve mentioned you can share,


  1. I’m not sure how many Saturdays per month they do it, but Union Cycles do open mornings when you can use their tools, get a bit of help and advice. No charge, just pay what it’s worth to you. It’s a good learning resource.

    Decathlon, in Surrey Docks, also have a cycle workshop and they’ve been helpful and reasonably priced for me in the past.

    I’ve also heard good reports about Vaidas Bicycles in Honor Oak Park but I’ve never been in there.

  2. I’ll happily put in a good word for Brockley Bikes (aka The Cycle Team) at the Business Centre in Brockley Cross. I’m not connected with them in any way other than as a customer, but they’ve done great work on my two bikes, including a Boardman that Halfords – almost inevitably – were never able to fix under warranty.

  3. The main problem I’ve found with Halfords is that you need to book a service weeks ahead, which is no good if you have a major problem that needs fixing. I’ve also had a good response from the Lee High Road shop, though I haven’t used it for anything serious.

    However it’s also worth trying http://www.re-cycling.co.uk/ at Elephant & Castle, a very friendly and lovely shop under the railway viaduct. OK, it’s a long way from Charlton, or Blackheath, but it’s 10 minutes ride from London Bridge station, or you can get the Victoria train from Blackheath, change at Peckham Rye and get off right above their heads.

  4. I used the Bike Warehouse over many years and must have bought half a dozen adult and child bikes there, but recently I had a broken frame, and they said they wouldn’t deal with it because the shop had changed hands since I bought the bike. So I’ve started using Cycles UK who have a good mechanic even if the rest of the staff are only interested in selling you the latest two-wheeled flyer. One tip if you don’t like punctures is get some Schwabe Marathon tires – bullet proof. I’ve had one puncture in about four years daily commuting since I switched to Schwabes – and that was from a split pin on a film lot in the Naval College.

  5. Probably a bit far for you but, Bexley Bikes in Bexleyheath are fabulous. Got me (and kept me) cycling again after a 30 year break. Always had great service there too. Would endorse the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. Over 2000 miles commuting in SE London so far and no punctures (touches everything wooden within reach

  6. The workshop at The Bike Shop is absolutely great. I’ve given them really difficult jobs to do on my bikes and they’ve been very professional and quick.

  7. the Lee High Road bike shop used to be the remarkable Youngs Cycles – part of the heritage of great SE London framemakers – not sure if there are many of ’em left – Roberts in Anerley used to be a great place as well – frames were often made by a bloke called Tommy Quick – he had a shop for a while in Forest Hill, also had a great frame made by him (as well as several Youngs frame)

  8. I might be one of the few who has had good service from the Halfords in Charlton – I think it’s generally recognised that Halfords is a bit hit & miss when it comes to quality bike staff (the ones in Bromley, for instance, aren’t that good) and would second any recommendations for the Lee High Rd shop. It just looks like a bike shop there – mechanics who seem to have every tool under the sun and you just get the feeling that they are not ripping you off.

    I’m not so sure about the Greenwich warehouse one though.

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